Interdisciplinary Studies Program Helps Student Create Her Own Path
By William Lineberry
It has always made the most sense to Haya Hamid to find a way to merge her interests and passions — despite their differences — to achieve her goals and help those around her.
And now, Hamid, who will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University’s University College with a focus area on cognitive science and leadership in public health, in addition to a certificate in leadership studies, is glad that she stuck to her instincts.
“I always found myself subconsciously taking an interdisciplinary approach to my education,” Hamid said. “It’s a mindset that you train your mind to take account of all the factors that influence a certain outcome. Through your experiences and practices, you become better at problem-solving.”
While becoming specialized in a certain area appealed to Hamid, she was always more at home navigating and threading together different fields, she said.
Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach has helped Hamid view public health from an interdisciplinary perspective, she said. As she was studying public health, Hamid said she began to see how pairing that interest with leadership studies could be used to help people in need.
“I think the reason I am interested in the holistic nature of public health is that there are a lot of factors that influence our health as a society that we do not talk about,” Hamid said. “There are a lot of stakeholders who don’t get to have a say in what their journey is going to be like [in the health care system]. I want to voice others’ concerns.”
Education, as well as support resources available to students at VCU, have provided Hamid with the platform to now make a positive impact on those around her, she said.
“I’m very grateful for the privilege of education and I feel as though it’s now my duty to serve my community by doing something that I am passionate about,” she said. “I want to do community outreach to create a sense of belonging between minority communities and their local health systems.”
While at VCU, Hamid has also occupied a variety of peer leadership roles. She has served as an undergraduate teaching assistant, a supplemental instruction tutor for Biology 101, an intern at VCU Transform and also as a member of diversity, equity and inclusion committees.
“Even though all those are really diverse and unique, and the disciplines that support them are all really different, it makes sense to me to connect to all of them because all of these elements make my experience at VCU,” Hamid said. “It just makes sense to look at the big picture. Being an IDS student really helped all of that make sense.”
Even though all those are really diverse and unique, and the disciplines that support them are all really different, it makes sense to me to connect to all of them because all of these elements make my experience at VCU. It just makes sense to look at the big picture. Being an IDS student really helped all of that make sense.
In addition to coursework and peer leadership, Hamid has served as a research assistant on multiple research projects across a variety of disciplines. In an independent study through VCU Lead, Hamid examined the challenges of peer leadership. This semester, Hamid is working on a Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences research project involving issues that face the geriatric African American community.
The entire experience at VCU, from coursework to peer leadership and tutoring to research, has been truly formative and helped shape her into her own type of thinker and leader, Hamid said.
“I want [to take] the definition of leadership I learned at VCU and apply that to my prospective work endeavors.
Photo by Thomas Kojcsich, VCU University Relations
This article was originally published on news.vcu.edu